‘We interrupt the scheduled programming’

Chloe turned off the TV. They lay in bed in stunned silence. A few minutes after the broadcast had finished, she reached over to the bedside table and picked up her phone.

“Well, I mean, look at it positively. It’s nothing we didn’t know before,” Dave said, his legs trying to comfort hers under the sheets. “At least they’ve come out and said it now.”

“It’s the start of the fucking fourth Reich, that’s what it is,” she replied, her jaw tense, teeth beginning to grind. Furiously she opened apps: Twitter, NPR, Facebook, the Guardian. Alerts began to ping in as she scrolled. Her chest tightened. The reality began to crystallise before her.

“It’s just a policy. There’s going to be outrage, and they’ll back down. I give it a week,” he said.

“But what if they don’t? It’s alright for you, you’re like fourth, fifth generation. What about people like me, people that don’t even have a passport?”

She felt suddenly like a ghost, a transparent shell of a person attached to nowhere, nothing, not even the bedroom in the suburban maisonette in the quiet street where they lived.

“Look, trust me. This is just scare tactics. They’re trying to look strict, give people a fright. Get the people that shouldn’t be here to go back of their own accord.”

“But Dave, I’m one of them. I shouldn’t be here. They’re talking about me. And I’ve got nowhere to go back to.”

She felt her throat tightening. Would immigration officers burst in and abduct her in the middle of the night? Would one of her friends report her? Should she leave this life before those scare tactics became a fully fledged national deportation policy?

Even marrying Dave wouldn’t help. It was too late for that. She made a note to take all her cash out of the bank, in case they closed her account. She wondered how much a false passport might be, and what colour she could dye her hair to try and fit in, and if she could ever belong anywhere now.